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PRUDENCE WANTS A PET by Cathleen Daly Kirkus Star


by Cathleen Daly & illustrated by Stephen Michael King

Age Range: 3 - 6

Pub Date: June 21st, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-59643-468-4
Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

A classic theme feels fresh as a squiggling kitten.

Prudence pines for a pet and adopts anything handy. Will a tree branch do? A twig? A tire? Daly’s matter-of-fact text is amusing but never mocking: “Prudence puts out a bowl of water for Branch. So far Branch has not been thirsty.” But “Branch is an outdoor pet…. Branch tripped Dad…. / Dad broke Branch into little bits and put them on the woodpile.” Other endeavors are equally short-lived. Pet Twig “ran away in the rinse cycle”; Prudence “frees” a pet shoe in the junkyard. (Narration toggles between past and present tense.) When “sea buddies” that “come in a package and are dry like Kool-Aid” fail to come alive, it’s the last emotional straw: “Prudence goes to live in the closet for the rest of the day.” Her crushing disappointment touches her parents, who kindly—despite qualms—take the only final step that could satisfy. With a touch of Quentin Blake flavor, King draws his animated figures in black line, washing selected bits in color. Eyes are sometimes dots, sometimes googly (sometimes one of each!). The book’s shape is a horizontal rectangle; adults are too tall for their faces to show, underscoring its orientation firmly in a child's emotions.

Demure yet mildly impish; when Prudence’s eyes “get hot and tingly” at the end, it’s for the best reason of all. (Picture book. 3-6)